The Ascent | Chicago Reader
Brooding close-ups concentrate our attention on character psychology in this final film (1976) by Soviet director Larissa Shepitko, about Russian partisans struggling against German occupiers in the winter of 1942. One character will do almost anything to save his life, while another, who endures brutal torture in silence, is likened to Christ, but the film is less a spiritual tract than a relentlessly physical document. Dynamic compositions that show Sheptiko's debt to her teacher Alexander Dovzhenko heighten the survival drama by placing characters alongside the snow, ice, and mud of frozen fields—the landscape is another actor here. The film is emotionally effective, though not especially original stylistically. In Russian with subtitles. 111 min.

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